The Instigator
dairygirl4u2c
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
Manduh7486
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points

income tax is not unconstitutional

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,457 times Debate No: 1118
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (9)

 

dairygirl4u2c

Pro

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

The Constitution itself says it's constitutional.

All I hear is rhetoric that says it's not constitutional, so I thought I'd see what actual arguments back the rhetoric up.
Sadly, all I hear is rhetoric and not much actual facts or concrete argument on most topics, but that's an other issue.

fyi, i am more against income taxation as opposed to other forms of taxation, but income taxation is still legit.
Manduh7486

Con

Hello dairygirl,

I would like to start by saying that I do not disagree with your statement "income tax is not unconstitutional." This will of course make you wonder why on earth I took this debate. However, while AN income tax may be constitutional, the income tax that is understood and implemented today is far from constitutional. So while I agree that the 16th amendment allows for an income tax, I am arguing that today's "income tax" as we know it goes far beyond the authority afforded by the 16th amendment.

In other words, I assume you are wondering why people call today's income tax unconstitutional, when it seems to be clearly spelled out IN the constitution.

By very nature, our income tax system violates the 5th amendment of the constitution. The fifth amendment states:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; NOR SHALL BE COMPELLED IN ANY CRIMINAL CASE TO BE A WITNESS AGAINST HIMSELF, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

I'm sure you've heard of the phrase "pleading the 5th" and what that basically means is that you are exercising your constitutional right to choose not to disclose evidence or testimony that may incriminate you.

If you look at the federal income tax return, it is a direct violation of this amendment in that it requires you to "voluntarily" disclose a whole lot of information about yourself that can later be used to incriminate you. If you refuse to sign the document "under pains and penalties or perjury" your return will be rejected, but if you do sign it you are forfeiting your Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself (in most cases unknowingly).

It is obviously unconstitutional for them to FORCE you to give up one of your constitutional rights, and if the income tax system is not voluntary, then that's what they are doing.
Debate Round No. 1
dairygirl4u2c

Pro

I appreciate your arguments, and I agree that an income tax can be unconstitutinoal, for the reasons you say.

The problem then, is that I don't disagree that it can be... my whole premise is that it's constitutional gneerally speaking.

I suppose in a sense you're right, because i should have qualifeid... income tax is not necessarily unconstitutional.

for a close to home example. the constitution doesn't say congress can tax sometimes. it just says congress can tax. i'm more fully conforming to the contitutions principles as expressly stated than you are.

the problem with putting the burden on me to qualify myself, is that I am speaking in normal terms.

for another example. it's like the constitution says "you have a right to bear arms", and it didn't qualify that you only usually do. not if you're a psycho killer. it's just a way of speaking, naturally. you could always put a burden on a person to put more nauance into their speaking, but that's requiring an overly burdensome load on them to make an encyclopedia out of their statements, or the constitution as the case may be.

So, I still conclude that income tax is constitutional, because it's says it is in the constitution. i acknowledge that i CAN be

really, as far as me and you, it's all semantics.
Manduh7486

Con



I think that the heart of the matter is whether or not today's income tax (the current state/federal income taxes where you have to report on your yearly earnings and hand over a percentage to the government) is constitutional or not. That's the income tax that we are affected by and is also the one that people tend to claim is unconstitutional. I disagree with the idea that simply because the constitution says something, it can justify actions that are contrary to what was meant. I actually feel that you are being too general in your assumptions.



What really matters in your example is what TAX means. Whether the constitution says that congress can tax or tax SOMETIMES is irrelevant if you don't know what the definition of tax is. If congress decided to take 95% of everybody's wages because they were given permission to "tax" or even "tax sometimes" by the constitution, would that really be constitutional? Before coming to a conclusion, you would have to understand what exactly a tax is, what kind of taxes can be implemented by congress, and what regulations exist upon them (all as outlined by the constitution itself). Just because the constitution gives them permission to tax people, doesn't mean they can do it in any manner they see fit – the need to stick with the guidelines provided by the constitution.

Which leads to another issue that ultimately points to the income tax being unconstitutional: the constitution prohibits direct taxes without apportionment. Now, some people believe that the 16th amendment allowed for an exception to this rule, others do not. Even the Supreme Courts are not in agreement which does make it really difficult to determine what's really going on here. (Although you must admit, it's pretty terrible when even the courts can't agree and yet we're still required to pay this thing).

Quoting an article entitled "Uncertainties of the Income Tax" http://www.constitution.org... (which is a really good one by the way)

"The problems created by the failure of American courts to determine what is the nature of an income tax are very broad. Any particular federal tax must fit within one of the two constitutional tax categories and once the category is known, it may be determined whether the tax in question complies with the constitutional regulation for imposition of that type of tax. A direct tax which is uniformly imposed would still be unconstitutional as one imposed in the absence of apportionment. An indirect tax imposed via apportionment would likewise be unconstitutional since it would not be uniform. But if it is impossible to determine which class any given tax falls within, then it is likewise impossible to determine which constitutional regulation, if any, applies to that tax. If the courts of this nation hold that an income tax is both an excise tax and a direct one, it cannot with any degree of certainty be determined what constitutional restrictions might or might not apply to this tax or what is even the meaning of the 16th Amendment. What's more, it cannot be determine what is income, whether property or non-property."

This of course, actually suggests that we don't KNOW whether the income tax is constitutional or not. Because of the nature of the tax, and the apparent inability of the courts to identify exactly what type of tax it is, it really isn't possible to say one way or another whether or not the tax is constitutional – not with any certainty anyway.

However, given my previous point, even if the 16th amendment did allow for a direct tax without apportionment this one time, the fact that its implementation clearly violates the fifth amendment is enough to condemn the federal/state income tax as unconstitutional.
Debate Round No. 2
dairygirl4u2c

Pro

"not necessarily unconst"
I will not address the argument about it being unconst in practice. I responded in a way that reconciles that I was talking about theory, and you were talking about practice. There's not much more to be said.

"not inherently unconst"
The uncertainty in the article you post simply shows that the constitution is vague. The court must decide whether or not it's unconstitutional, with principles like who decides? the court or the congress, if the issue is reasonably disputed given flexibility inherent in the constitution such as described by yoru post of the article. It must decide based on that vagueness. So, it's not unconstitutional inherently, necessarily. I never said it was absolutely necessarily constitutional inherently.

But if you step back and look at what the constitution says, inherently speaking, Congress can tax as it wishes, and that includes income tax. Remember, i'm only talking about theory that i can, not in practice when it might go overboard.

so, just read the constitution, an income tax is not unconstitutioal.
don't make it complicated unless you have to.
Manduh7486

Con

I apologize. I assumed you were talking about people who claim that our current income tax is unconstitutional, as it seems to be an opinion that many people have and that raises a lot of questions. Obviously the 16th amendment says what it says, the point is what exactly does it mean?

The implications of the 16th amendment have still not been clarified, and the "income tax" has not being clearly categorized as one of the two taxes sanctioned by the constitution. So in this aspect, it's really tough to discern whether or not a tax on income is constitutional on the basis that nobody is defining what an income tax is. As I said, the constitution only allows for direct and indirect taxes – both of which must follow certain regulations. Unless the income tax is clearly defined by the courts and the intent of the 16th amendment clarified, you really can't say whether it's constitutional or not.

So yes, an allowance for an income tax is stated in the constitution, but because of the vagueness and uncertainty surrounding this term, I don't think you can say whether or not it is constitutional.

Basically it seems like your argument was that the constitution states that an income tax is allowed. Obviously, there really isn't much to debate there. It seems like it would make more sense to discuss what an income tax is or how this constitutional amendment affects us. However, it was your debate subject, not mine! Thanks for discussing, this was my first debate on the site :o)
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
I want to be clear, I am saying a -progressive- income violates the letter of the 14th amendment and the 15th Amendment. It applies to people differently based solely upon their income, taxing one individual at a given rate, and another at a higher rate, and another not at all.

14th Amendment reads: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

So that a person should be equally protected from the law, and not forced to forfeit undue extra tax rates when someone else does not, without due process of law - which is to say, going through a judge.

I mispoke earlier and cited the 15th Amendment when I'd meant the 14th. But the 15th Amendment prohibits discrimination based on multiple demographics, which has set the implication that discrimination on similar demographics should also be prohibited. That judges extend the 15th Amendment to some unlisted demographics, such as location, but not to others such as Income is arbitrary.
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
And I'd like to point out that I support the income tax only because I believe that government can provide services that help out others, and I feel that paying your taxes is almost a donation to good, although I realize that a lot of my tax dollars go to supporting a war that I don't support.

Call me an idealist but I'd be happy to pay my taxes even if (and when) others don't. We all benefit from a collective effort to help the suffering and the weak, that is, if you think that Chaos theory has any grounds, which it very well might.

Plus, very few people ever starved from paying taxes under the U.S. model.
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
"Arbitrary". Cute. I'm glad that you think the part of the Constitution is 'arbitrary'. Nice.

People over-extend the 15th Amendment a lot. It is about racial equality. It could be stretched that it is about all kinds of equality, but so could almost any of the other Amendments if you are using that logic (1,2,4,5,8,9,10,13,14,15,19,24,26). These are all about equality 'for the people'.

You're also forgetting the document that was before these Amendments. There's a lot about equality there too.

The fact is that there is a sense that we get a societal value of non-discrimination from laws such as the 15th, but that the actual reason that you cannot discriminate against other types of people as a semi-reflection of the 15th is because of the laws that, according to Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, are 'necessary and proper' for carrying out the Constitution! It's the other laws that we have to look at!

What I am saying is that you can't apply random concepts to an established law. They have to be relateable. Tax code and racial equality aren't necessarily the most compatible of policy areas. To make that extension could lead to a perversion of the actual meaning of the law, and that is truly dangerous.
Posted by SirJDKnightCroix 9 years ago
SirJDKnightCroix
But you should be aware of all this I suppose, you support Ron Paul I see? The champion of freedom?

- J.D.
Posted by SirJDKnightCroix 9 years ago
SirJDKnightCroix
Just a little black humor in an argument where points where conceded and overturned...and finally concluded that nothing was really being debated. It was more of an exchange of thoughts.

Fine, here's a little constructive criticism:

The means in which income taxes are collected by the Internal Revenue Service (which you should've mentioned) are aggresive in nature, and unconstitutional due to the notion that it violates the 5th Amendment. I agree with you actually, and thus I think you won this debate.

(So I'm clicking the green check mark above your name. ;-])

BUT say, it was if it was overturned by the commissioner and all those other lethargic devils of the corporofascist entity that currently presides in the U.S., eventually, the income tax would revert to the current status quo by simply rewriting various provisions in the Internal Revenue CODE and fabricating a loophole out of thin air to get easier access to one's money, perhaps by imposing stricter monetary sanctions, draining him to the point where he or she is imprisoned for not paying a tax that will probably go to fund another absurd contraction of Leviathan. This though may be a slightly more lucrative alternative when weighed against violating an individual's 4th Amendment right to privacy from breaking and entering one's private domain, then seizing one's personal assets.

Unfortunately, politically, any argument that goes against the income tax, will have to fueled on philosophical principle, backed with its present day inconsistencies and a movement that would stir enough citizens to shake the otherwise unnoticed status quo.

:-(

- J.D.
Posted by Manduh7486 9 years ago
Manduh7486
SirJD Give a girl a break... It would be nice to get some constructive criticism instead of just "you're a bad debater."

As for the debate itself, I don't think we were actually debating anything... which of course makes it tough to do a good job. She later clarified that her basic argument is that since the 16th amendment allows for an income tax then in theory an income tax is constitutional. There's not really much to debate there - who would question that? To me, the assumption would clearly be that she's talking about people who question whether or not the income tax as we know it is constitutional, which is why I took the debate in the first place.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
The 15th Amendment, despite its limited wording, has been ruled to apply to a broad number of types of discrimination, such as age and geographical location. That Income is not included is arbitrary.
Posted by SirJDKnightCroix 9 years ago
SirJDKnightCroix
Both of you are bad debaters. lol
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
To the previous comment:

The 15th Amendment says NOTHING about discriminating based on socio-economic status.

Section 1: "The rights of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

However, the 24th does says SOMETHING about economic discrimination, yet not what you might want it to say for your argument.

Section 1: "The rights of citizens to vote...shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or any other tax."

This means that if you really don't want to pay the income tax, you can STILL VOTE. Good luck with the IRS, though.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
But the 16th Amendment in no way repeals a person's right to take the 5th.

The Income Tax is also unconstitutional based on the 15th Amendment, in that a progressive income tax applies to people discriminatorily on the basis of income level.

Also, there is some controversy surrounding the legitimacy of certain details about the passing of the 16th Amendment. It supposedly wasn't clear that enough states had indeed ratified it as an amendment to the constitution, although I don't know how much is real and how much is a conspiracy theory.
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